Reader comments

On Truancy policies can catch parents by surprise


Cassie Powell 5 years ago

Yet nobody cares if children are home schooled by parents that didn't even finish middle school. You have got to love Kansas!

dragonfly0221 5 years ago

Is kindergarten even required in Kansas? It didn't used to be.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

Not entirely true, tanzer - according to state law, a child is not required to attend school until they're seven years old, but once enrolled the child DOES have to meet the same attendance requirements as if they were seven. The alternative is un-enrolling them, which a parent can do at any time at their option.

usesomesense 5 years ago

"if you (anger) the principal, he can make your life hell." Translation: "There is more to this story than we are being told." - I'd say there's a typo in there - more likely in this instance it should say 'she can make your life hell' - it's more about politics - some principals have no decent principles.

Peter Houston 5 years ago

Yes, you are correct. There is a LOT MORE...but the parent in this case is reluctant to share the rest of the story.

Amy Heeter 5 years ago

The state sure is counting those beans.

James Minor 5 years ago

It seems like there needs to be a clearer definition from the school district on what is "Absent" and what is "Late". There also needs to be one standard policy for all schools and not individual ones at each school.

Mark Currie 5 years ago

How come I had a bunch of students with 20 or more absences? No one seemed to care. With some of them, I kind of liked it when they were gone!

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

State only seems to care about unexcused because they're illegal.

Mark Currie 5 years ago

You don't know me or anything about me, yet you attack me. Why? I gave my heart and soul to that job for 31 years. Never once had anything but excellent evaluations. In fact I keep in contact with many former students.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Why would I want my daughter to miss a whole day of school due to my migraine? Silly as ut seems, instead of telling the truth and getting my daughter late to school I could have lied and said she was sick and kept her out of school all day and it would have been an excused absence and no truancy issue. Shame that I actually thought it in the best interest of my child to be late to school safely & still being educated than to keep her home or take her to work with me so she could watch cartoons.

Loretta James 5 years ago

my grandkids got caught up in this they wound up in court this was their option QUIT school or run the risk of being removed from your home. So glad they are done with school there is so much bullying in lawrence schools one event happened right in front of me and school counselor what happened my grandson got suspended for telling kid to leave him alone or he was going to hurt him the other kid said im going to kill you. and nothing was done. home schooling looks better and better now days.

Matthew Herbert 5 years ago

Teaching your children early and modeling for them the importance of school (and necessarily attendance) cannot be overvalued. Modeling for your children that attitude that school is a bad place out to get them and to "make their life hell" will not be a lesson easily forgotten by the child.

Deb Engstrom 5 years ago

These bad attendance patterns in elementary, middle and high school, lead to poor attendance at work. Going to school is not an option here -- fever or vomiting is the only reason to stay home. Everything else can be done after school, on weekends or breaks, and in the summer.

ComeOnMannnnnnn 5 years ago

right on Deb. Get your kids to school. Don't blame the principal.

Danielle Brunin 5 years ago

Completely agree with the exception of doctor and dentists appointments. Not everyone can be scheduled before or after school. Those are excused though, as long as you let the school know.

jafs 5 years ago

That's a very bad idea.

When kids are sick, they don't have to be vomiting or have a fever to be contagious, and if they're sick, they should stay home for that reason as well as for their own health and well-being.

usesomesense 5 years ago

Unfortunately some principals are more interested in disciplining parents instead of creating a good learning environment for students. While I'm a firm believer in punctuality especially during the early years of setting an example for our children, I'm also empathetic (a quality that is an absolute requirement for a principal - and completely absent in this particular principal) when it comes to medical and psychiatric issues. I think it's particularly relevant that kindergarten isn't required and if it's still only a half day it is also quite inconvenient - you basically get home, brush your teeth and turn around and pick your kid up again or pay someone else to do it for you. The bigger question is this: How did the principal communicate BEFORE calling the authorities? At all? Did they explain "If your daughter is late two more times SRS will be called and this is what will happen". I'd be surprised. A well informed parent is far more likely to prevent a problem.

Sue McDaniel 5 years ago

And it sounds like there is much more to the story, politics, they are everywhere.....

Hardhawk1 5 years ago

Pick up the phone and either call the school or a friend/relative to take the child to school. A lot less hassle than the diversion program. But, the easy excuse is to blame the school and/or principal rather than accept responsibility as a parent. If the parent has a medical issue, that is more reason to have a "plan B" transportation plan in place in advance.

snitty 5 years ago

Truancy in kindergarten. It's important to catch these little criminals early, so they can be taken from their parents and placed in one of our fine correctional institutions.

momof2 5 years ago

And bring shame on the parents at the age of 5!

momof2 5 years ago

This is one of the reason I moved my kids to Sunset Hill. I have heard this story of her calling SRS. before. When Boardwalk apartments burned to the ground years back a family had to temporally move due to fire and she refused to let the child get back into Deerfield. My advise run don't walk and get into another school. Something like this does not warrant SRS being called to the home. Frankly I find it hard to believe this Principal is still working period.

Elizabeth Halsey 5 years ago

Meanwhile...I'm struggling with my teenager's attendance and grades - practically begging for help and intervention and get nothing from the school. I know it's my responsibility, but it does take a village. When that village ignores someone who could be in college in a year and punishes a little girl, I'm very disappointed. Hopefully this story will bring about some consistency and changes within the district.

friendlyjhawk 5 years ago

Sorry the lady has migraines but she is still responsible for getting the child to school on time. If she has friends perhaps they could help on those morning she is disabled with migraines. And that poor kid was sent home from school one time for possible strept throat? Wow, that school nurse should be whipped for not buying those medical supplies that would show immediately if the kid had strep? Sounds like the same kind of mother who would be up in arms over her kids visit to the nurse if she wasn't notified. Bet all those horror stories alluded to by the other folks who posted have validity also because they said it was true. Buck up parents and do your job and that job is being responsible for your child. The second largest problem in schools is poor, lazy parenting.

mom_of_three 5 years ago

I think you missed the point. The mother is upset because she suffers from migraines and isn't getting any help from the school and yet the school nurse sent the child home with an illness which it wasn't.
While its important to get the kid to school, its kindergarten. And she has migraines.. Maybe her neighbors can't help...
My kids were late to school by a couple of minutes for a while, because one didn't want to go (bullies and learning disabilities). It made all of them late. Its not that she isn't a good parent, but heck, things happen. she isn't lazy, but there does seem to be a double standard in the school system.

CalitoNY 5 years ago

wow! too bad 497 can't spend this much time and get print in the ljworld for all of the bullying in the schools. oh....but of course it doesn't occur, i forgot. let's call it girl drama (even tho there's threats) and then red flags won't go up for Lawrence 497!! turn your heads.....

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Where the heck is the father and why can't he take the child to school when the mother cannot?

oldbaldguy 5 years ago

usually extended absences are an indicator of other problems in the family or with the child. communications with the school is very important. you do not want the state in your business because of truancy if at all possible.

jafs 5 years ago

For God's sake, folks, we're talking about kindergarten here!

Not even required, and mostly more babysitting than any actual learning, as far as I know.

That a few late arrivals can be considered absences is absurd, and turning a parent into SRS for that is also absurd.

As others have mentioned, home schooling has virtually no requirements, and if this sort of nonsense pushes more people to home school their kids, that's a bad outcome.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

"mostly more babysitting than actual learning ..."

I can assure you, ask any principle of any school, ask any kindergarten teacher, and they will say you are wrong about that.

MarcoPogo 5 years ago

Post about education fall down, go boom.

jafs 5 years ago


What do you think of my main point? Do you agree that a parent whose child is late for kindergarten a few times should be turned into SRS, etc?

"principal" of a school.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Principle, principal, I think I've made that mistake more than once.

Should a parent be reported to SRS? That's a judgement call that principals have to make, sometimes based on intuition, experience, a feeling, the attitude given off by a parent, etc. Human behavior isn't an exact science, so we have to assume that principals will report at times when it's unnecessary and won't report when in retrospect, they should have.

That may not be a very satisfying response, but I think it's true.

jafs 5 years ago

So, you don't answer the question at all, preferring to simply point out that humans are imperfect?

Wow, that's a revelation to me - I thought they were perfect.

By the way, the school's response when I called them was that they were simply following the rules (even though it's clear individual schools have discretion about these things), so they present it in the opposite manner from the way you do.

funkdog1 5 years ago

A little off topic, but I have to quibble with you on that point. Kindergarten is no longer "babysitting." Kindergarteners have a serious curriculum these days thanks to all the rigorous testing. They even get home work these days.

jafs 5 years ago


I said as far as I know - it's been a long time since I was in kindergarten, and we don't have any children.

But, if it's so important, and kids are learning so much there, why isn't it required?

gatekeeper 5 years ago

Here is my viewpoint. I used to teach and I suffer from migraines and have for 30 years.

First - migraines are treatable. There are good meds out there that can help knock them down quickly and still allow you to function. I've been on the same one since I was 14 years old. Migraines don't usually just hit you, there are signs that one is coming and you can take meds and do other things to control it before it knocks you down. There are also triggers for migraines - hormonal, certain foods, etc... You have to pay attn and track what you've done, eaten, drank, etc... and find out what is triggering them. If she isn't doing that, then she's not being responsible. I've been at the same job for over 10 years and have only had to take sick time 3 times for a migraine. My experience is that lots of people use migraines as an excuse. If she is so incapacitated that she can't get her kid to school, then she also isn't in any shape to be the caregiver for that child when she has a headache. Who's caring for the kid at those times?

Second - If you enroll your child in school, that child should be at school. Kids coming in late is a disruption to the entire class. Yes, this is just kindergarten, but much of what is learned in kindergarten is structure. It's not all skipping and playing, they do learn a lot. If it wasn't important, none of you would send your kids.

Third - any responsible parent would have a back-up plan in case something came up and they couldn't get their kid to school. If my best friends couldn't get their boys to school for some reason or couldn't pick them up, they have my husband and I ready to help. If you work in the schools you see that some parents just aren't responsible and will blame the school and teachers for everything. Often, the parents are the biggest problems, not the kids. It's one of the reasons I don't want to teach. Kids are easy, parents not so much.

I think there is A LOT more to this story and think it is bad journalism for the paper to only report her side of this story.

jafs 5 years ago

"much of what is learned in kindergarten is structure"

Does this mean training them to be compliant, obedient worker bees who defer to authority figures?

Also, a child coming in late is a very minor disruption, if you're a good teacher. This whole thing is crazy, from my point of view.

gatekeeper 5 years ago

You try the job and see if your opinion changes.

No, it's not teaching them to be little worker bees. It's teaching them about schedules, responsibilty, etc...

Those that have never taught think it's so easy. there's good reason why most teachers make it about a decade before quitting or losing their minds.

jafs 5 years ago

I've never said teaching is easy - I respect teachers and think they should be paid more, and supported by our society.

But, I also don't like much of how our educational system is structured and what kids are actually learning in school, which is very much simply a training ground for the things I mentioned.

Why should 5 year olds have to learn about schedules and responsibility? And, how is that different from what I said?

Peter Houston 5 years ago

Yes, there is a LOT MORE to the story...

In_God_we_trust 5 years ago

Sounds like the laws on truancy have room to be relaxed; like force the school to make contact with the parents before any further steps are required. It sounds like the school really needs to communicate with parents in this case. The school is practicing hardball tactics with parents when it really needs to practice good communication skills instead. Public school has it's negative and positive points. In my opinion, if you can home school your children, or place them in a quality private school, your children are much, much better off than in public school, unless the local public school is of good quality and good teachers and teaches real education instead of liberal indoctrination.

oldbaldguy 5 years ago

actually schools contact parents before the matter is referred to DCF or the county Attorney.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

There is a lot more to this story. School district 497 is the only one on the area that deems that a child a hour late can be recorded as absent for the whole day either excused or unexcused depending on what the principle thinks is valid. Not once did the secretary or principle of Deerfield school say that me contacting them that my daughter would be late due to my eye sight being affected because of a migraine would be recorded as unexcused and could end up being reported to SRS for truancy. I received a letter from the school that my.daughter had 7 unexcused absences. 5 were due to my daughter getting to school after 9am. According to Deerfield handbook those are considered half day absences but they filed them with SRS as full days. The other 2 days, was due to the nurse sending my daughter home because she doesn't know the difference between swollen inflamed tonsils & large ones. My daughter wasn't sick but yet the nurse didn't follow proper procedures in the Deerfield handbook and my daughter missed school and it was recorded as unexcused. This all occurred in Feb. In March I emailed the principle & secretary that my daughter wasn't feeling well. They recorded it as unexcused because they wanted to. I have 4 copies of my daughters attendance record & they are all different. I have met with the principle & have spoken to the school district liaison & have tried to speak & meet with the superintendent but I just keep getting referred back to the liaison. If the Deerfield principle & nurse followed the handbook they expect us parents to then none of this would have been a issue. They didn't want to take me serious so I went to the paper. I know I am not the only parent this has happened to & I wanted it exposed. My 6 yr old daughter who is in kindergarten has a criminal truancy hearing with the Asst DA in May & even the cofounder of the truancy program said for me to hire an attorney because the program was not designed for preschool or grade school children. This will go on my daughters juvenile record.

ATR920 5 years ago

As a parent you need to make better arrangements to get you kid to school, if you cant do it then you need to find someone who can.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

I will also add this. According to Kansas statues an inexplainable absence is unexcused. The Kansas board of Education leaves it up to each school district and school district 497 leaves it to the discretion of the principles. Deerfield principle said that according to her school handbook that it is Kansas statue law what is deemed a excused or unexcused. I contacted the Kansas Board of education and they stated that is not true. The principle stated her hands were tied and that she could not change the unexcused absences on my daughters attendance record which was a bold face lie. Unfortunately the school principle is the only one that can have my daughter removed from the truancy program. SRS & the truancy program go based on what is reported by the schools & the schools are to report according to their handbooks which in my daughters case this did not happen.

ATR920 5 years ago

Principal....not principle....one good example why your kid needs to be in school.

engagedecoy 5 years ago

You should feel ashamed of yourself. We are talking about a 6yr old, not a 16 yr old delinquent who could be running around the city doing god know what. The fact of the matter remains that she contacted the school and the school decided to be aholes about the issues and report it to the state. Since when did being late become an absence? As far as my memory can recall, Late is counted as Tardy and Absent is counted as Absent. Are you telling me that showing up 1 minute late to work justifies being counted as absent therefore you should not be paid? Pull your head out of you butt for a second and think of what you are saying. I know being a good role model for children but how can you consider this mother a bad role model for taking safety into consideration and waiting til she was able to safely drive her child to school. What you and the school are implying is that it's okay to put your child's safety at risk over a few minutes of time. This is a major problem with society today, everything is now now now now, no one can add 5 minutes to their commute to make sure they arrive safely.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Well Im sorry that the only thing you got from my statement was that "Principal" was misspelled. Well if the Principal had any principles there wouldn't be an article or statement for you to comment on. For whatever reason my smart phone auto corrected the spelling to principle. My bad for not catching it prior to posting.

windex 5 years ago

Statute, not statue. And what is an inexplainable absence?

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

One that is not capable of being explained.

gatekeeper 5 years ago

The issues I don't see the parent addressing is why do you not have any kind of backup for when you aren't able to get her to school and why aren't you taking care of your migraine problem? Migraines are no excuse and I know first hand because I have lived with them for over 30 years. They are managable and can be easily treated if you take the time and effort to figure out what causes them. It is not only in your better interest, but your daughter's better interest for you to do this.

A job requires you to have reliable transportation to be employed and the same applies for you having a reliable way to get your kid to school. How about talking to your neighbors and other parents that have children in school there to find someone to pick up your daughter and get her to school if you are unable? You are the parent and it is your job to be responsible for your child. Stop blaming the system and step up and be the responsible adult. The least you could have done is call the school to explain the situation when you couldn't get her to class in time. I think the fact you didn't do this showed them that you didn't take your kid's education seriously and aren't being responsible. Teachers and school administrators don't contact SRS for fun. There are good reasons when they do.

engagedecoy 5 years ago

Migraines are not predictable AND you do not know the severity of her migraines. It may be easy to pass judgement from behind a computer but you refuse to see all the facts.

My Suggestion to the mother would be, go see your doctor, get some sort of note or letter to shove down the school and truancy programs throat. Glad to know she thought of her daughters safety and decided not to get behind the wheel of a car while feeling impaired enough to not be able to drive safely.

gatekeeper 5 years ago

You suffer from migraines? I've had them bad enough I had to be completely knocked out. I made the effort and worked with a doctor to learn why mine occured, how to control the triggers, etc.... I've lived it and know others that have too. They can often be predictable and if you have them so bad that you can't get a grasp on controlling them, then they have daily meds you can take that will do the trick. She's using it as an excuse.

valgrlku 5 years ago

You seem to be speaking repeatedly from a position of privilege: a) that you have a car or easy access to one and the income for upkeep and gas, b) you have a local support system in town at your beck and call to provide rides, c) you have a working phone to call said support system, d) you have medical insurance and access to a physician, e) you have an employment position that permits you time off to see said physician and to perhaps permit sick days to manage your symptoms, and f) you have the income to pay for the medication to treat the migraines. If more people would stop assuming that everyone has these luxuries, then perhaps we could come from a place of understanding and assistance rather than judgment and finger-wagging.

jafs 5 years ago

According to her post above, she did in fact contact the school and told them her child would be late, and why.

Treating a minor lateness as an unexcused absence is absurd, and principals shouldn't have that discretion.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

I emailed the school & explained to them why my daughter would be late. Not once did they say that it would be considered a unexcused absence for her being a hour late and that it would ultimately be turned into SRS for truancy. This occurred 5 times from Aug-Feb. I've never had Migraines until this past year and now have them under control. I'm a single parent of 2 & I don't have anyone but myself, so that makes it more difficult when issues arise.

gatekeeper 5 years ago

If this is the true, then you shouldn't have any issues in court.

jafs 5 years ago

Except that the discretion for what constitutes an unexcused absence is up to the individual districts and principals.

And she shouldn't have to go to court about this at all.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Im not the one that is going to court. My 6yr old daughter is. This goes against her n me. That is why I have hired an attorney to protect her. By Kansas Law she doesn't have to attend school until age 7. Many people are missing the bigger picture here. Children as young as 4 are reported to SRS for truancy

ferrislives 5 years ago

From personal experience, this "Principal" and her office staff are an absolute nightmare.

RubyVrooom 5 years ago

This happened to our family too, although it was about 5 years ago and in a different Kansas town. In our case my easily-distracted 6th grade son was walking to school and often arriving late. I wasn't being notified. He was considered truant because of the tardies, absences weren't the problem at all. I just got a letter out of nowhere in the mail one day that included the language "It has been decided it is in the best interest of the child to be removed from the home."

Based on nothing other than late arrivals.

That I was not notified about.

We had to go to court, and it was decided that we had to go to family counselling weekly for a year.

This is a very traumatizing process for a family. Starting with the heart attack you have at the language of the letter. I believe schools should ABSOLUTELY be required to send out warning letters before it gets to this point. The letters should clearly state the guidelines, the consequences, and how many absences/tardies your student has. It is a pretty simple concept. Much easier than putting families through the truancy process, and surely much cheaper for the state too.

By the way Tracy, I have a kid at Deerfield right now. I hope this doesn't sound creepy but I will happily take your daughter to school along with mine if you need the help.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Thanks RubyVroom, I appreciate the offer. I fortunately have my Migraines under control & can predict them better now. Just started having them in the past year.

optimist 5 years ago

In my family my children go to school unless they are physically ill (obvious symptoms) or are feverish. They miss very few days with the exception of appointments that can only be scheduled during school hours which are few and rare. I require them to make up any work that they missed to further reinforce the importance of being in school. That being said, as their parent, I! and or my wife decide when our children are excused from school and what is a valid reason for their absence. I generally do not provide enough details about their absences for the administration. Absent obvious signs of abuse or neglect it is none of their business what goes on in my family. If this were ever to happen to me I would pull my child out of the public school immediately to start and escalate from there.

Bobbi Walls 5 years ago

For the last 2 years I have received the harrassing letters from my daughters school because of her attendance. She has stomach issues, and even though all of her absences were for illness, they still send out the letter and once the absences get to a certain number they require a dr's note for every day that she misses. It drives me crazy that I get these letters about her attendance. They need to figure out the reasons for a lot of these kids missing so much school. At the school my daughter attends, a lot of kids don't want to go because they are being bullied and the school does absolutely nothing about it.

snook3200 5 years ago

it does not matter if u call the school, if your child is sick. after so many missed days that is that. period. the school does not care if you call. you must provide a doctors note after you miss so many days even if you provide a doctors note for the prior days missed. it is a mess. unfair. they need to be more clear. we provide a doctors note and that is fine. and then when we miss school for having loose stools, we have to go pay a doctor to get a doctors note, this is a joke, just so we are not turned into dcf. what about the teachers and principals, and nurses and staff, do we have the same policy for them. do we hold them to the same. or can they just miss school whenever they want. the school district needs to make sure the ones that are turning parents in are the ones that are following the same guidelines.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

From Aug-Feb my daughter was late 5 times because of my vision being impaired due to a migraine. Its called an Aura and it's blurred vision. Not possible to drive safety. My son was also late to school but his school didn't have a problem with it. I also was late to work. My children's safety as well as others was my concern. Had I been in a car accident then would it have been considered child endangerment?

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

My word of advice to parents entering public school or private is to monitor your childs attendance record via Skyward & stay on top of it. I would hate for anymore parents to get blind sided like I did. This isn't over by a long shot & only part of a bigger problem with this Principal, her office staff & School Nurse.

I would like other parents that have children in the truancy diversion program that are from Deerfield school to please contact me.

Also if there have been any issues regarding your childs health & issues with unwarranted medical checks done by the Deerfield/Woodlawn School Nurse and Deerfield Secretary.

momof2 5 years ago

It is a real shame as this school use to have a great reputation until Joni got there. People use to move to go to Deerfield now they move to get out of the school.

jhawk1998 5 years ago

Why are the parents surprised? Read the school handbook. Oh, and get your kids to school on time. No problems then

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

According to the handbook there should have never been an issue. Only problem was the Principal & her staff didn't follow it. Hince there will more to come in regards to their misconduct.

Daniel Davidson 5 years ago

My son lives with my exwife. She is suppost to be looking out for his best interest and I still have been contacted with a letter regarding my son missing school. I think the state needs to pull the kids from bad places and put them where they come first.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Lets go this route, if I had a flat tire getting my daughter to school and I contacted the school and she was a hour late then that is considered a unexcused absence. School district 497 deems missing 1hour of school a significant portion of the day and can be recorded as absent for the whole day. Unexcused is what is reported for truancy. Anyone with children know that anything can happen unexpected. One friend was told that if she took her son out of.school to attend his Uncles funeral it would be marked as an unexcused absence. A teacher at.a different school pleaded with the office staff not.to mark a special needs student as unexcused due to a legal issue even though the parent notified the school and he was only a hour late. There are many more instances of parents & teachers horror stories.

windex 5 years ago

Meanwhile, expect teachers to work miracles turning your kids into senators and brain surgeons while you can't even deliver thFedEx school fed, dressed, equipped and on time. Just drop the little darlings off whenever it's convenient for you and if the school ever dares to ask for some accountability on your part, blast away. And for what it's worth, I just don't believe the school nurse is doing "unwarranted medical checks" on students. I believe school nurses have their hands full giving out ADHD meds, dealing with injuries and vomit, doing paperwork, monitoring diabetics and dealing with sick kids who show up in the clinic.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

The point is you don't know what is going on in that school & I know Im not the only parent that has had or is having issues with the nurse & principal. That is why I put it out there. There is much more to this but the truancy was the initial lead I needed to expose the misconduct that is happening at this school.

Im all for accountability, but who holds the Principal, nurse or any other school district staff accountable? You'd think it'd be easy to speak to the superintendent but he only keeps referring situations back to the school district liaison.

windex 5 years ago

Them, not thFedEx (bizarre auto fill!)

usesomesense 5 years ago

It's really quite simple. All of this could have easily been avoided with some very simple, honest communication from district staff. When a parent is calling in an absence and is approaching the limit it's plain old common courtesy (and common sense) to inform them what can happen. It's basic human decency to tell you neighbor if their house is on fire and this is no different. It's bad business when educators fail to educate - and this is proof of incompetence as an educator of this principal. Very bad publicity for the district - just plain embarrassing.

Michele Trompeter 5 years ago

There are many parents out there that don't have a valid excuse for not getting their kids to school on time, or not sending them at all on a regular basis. Let's get the story on what those kids are able to learn when they do not attend school like they should. This parent may have some valid reasons to be upset, but many others do not, yet they throw a fit and make threats when the school contacts them about truancy. LJW, dig into statistics and do a story on how those kids fall behind and how it affects their performance. Show how schools are held accountable for these situations that are beyond their control, yet parents are often not held accountable. Get the school's side of the story.

Jennifer Nigro 5 years ago

The bigger issue here is that USD 497 gives building principals way too much autonomy. Each school has different rules, regulations and procedures. Those differences not only affect how attendance is counted, but how special education services are dispersed, how children are taught (homework versus no homework, multiple-choice speling tests versus traditional spelling tests, etc.), and how parents receive information about their students' expected and actual progress. There is no consistency.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

This parent is teaching their child that it's ok to be chronically late. Would you want to hire that kids when they grow up. I feel for the parent's health problems, but why didn't she find someone to take her daughter to school. She could have asked the school for help, if she didn't have any friends or relatives to help out. They could have found another parent to help out. What is wrong with people.

jafs 5 years ago


I agree that the parent could have made some arrangements that would have helped, and perhaps should have done that.

But she didn't think it was a huge problem if her child was occasionally a little late to kindergarten, and I agree with that as well. It's kindergarten, and it's not even required that parents send their kids there.

If we impose draconian punishment for very minor events like this, and more parents just take their kids out of school and home school them (for which there are barely any requirements at all), I think the kids will suffer for that.

Calling a minor lateness about which the school has been informed an unexcused absence seems outrageous to me, and it's within the discretion of the principal. Seems to me that a more reasonable approach would have been for the school to communicate with the parent and express their concerns.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Actually punctuality is very important to me & I teach my children that. 5 times due to a medical issue in 7 month does not mean habitual. Plus my sons school in addition to my job were affected as well. Since Feb my daughter has not been late due to me having a migraine. I don't have extra help it falls all on to me. Im thankful that I have my migraines under control now since they just started in the past year. Not everything is black and white in situations and Im not the only parent that has problem with this Principal. Im just fortunate to have better connections and I won't give up when there is an injustice done to one of my children. Joni Appleman used to be the Principal at Woodlawn and you should hear the nightmare stories from the parents that dealt with her.

momof2 5 years ago

Why did this article avoid naming the person who has the power to correct this situation? Joni Appleman has been the principal at Deerfield since 2006. The people that fund her job (tax payers) should know that they can contact her at (785) 832-5660 and express their concerns.


Thank You for this Post. Ever since the old teacher left this school has gone to Hell in a hand basket. I might also add in all the years she has been there I have yet to hear one good thing about her. KG is not required by law... Kids are not going to remember being "late" at 5 years of age nor begin to start building work ethics. For those of you that think Migraines are "treatable" you must have never had one!!! Not only can they make your vision distorted which makes it impossible to drive but the meds. for these can make you have a number of side effects. When my kids were in school I had no option other than myself to get my kids to school. It isn't as cut and dry as you all seem to think. The problem begins and hopefully will end with finding a new Principal and getting rid of Joni Appleman once and for all. Did she ever warn the parent of calling SRS? This is something that will follow this women for a good long time. Joni is on a power trip and it is time the school district wakes up to the damage this Principal has caused. Wake up USD497 and fire this Principal one and for all!

momof2 5 years ago

This is KG we are talking about which consist of play and socialization. At best learning the ABC's.

hannahss 5 years ago

As a former kindergarten teacher, I can assure you that kindergarten is not just play time. Virtually all of my students, unless there was a disability, were reading by the end of the year. There were many other academic skills that I taught and that they mastered. We did learn rules and expectations, not to make them mindless robots, but to facilitate learning and safety, just as there are rules and expectations in society as a whole. Kindergarten builds a foundation for learning. That said, I also suffer migraines. I can tell you that several doctors and medications did not make me migraine proof. If someone has been able to manage their migraines, that is wonderful, but they should not assume that it is possible for everyone.

jafs 5 years ago

If kindergarten is so valuable, we should require it.

Since we don't, we shouldn't make a big deal out of a few late arrivals.

Rules and expectations - those would be your rules and expectations, with the requirement that children follow them. Sounds just like my comments - obedience and compliance.

flutter 5 years ago

I am completely dismayed by the number of people who are attacking the parent in this situation. She seems to have done everything by the handbook. I agree that being 1 hour late should not constitute a complete day's absence. Any logical, reasonable person would agree.

My concern is that the 6-year-old child is being charged and forced to go to court herself. That is just sick. How traumatic for such a young child! And for such a petty situation. The principal should be completely ashamed of herself for subjecting such a young child to such a horrible situation. I'm completely appalled.

Also, for all of you insisting that this parent should have a back-up for school transportation.......it's not always that easy. You don't know her situation. Perhaps she has no family here, no friends whose schedules allow for them to help in this way, and no reliable or trustworthy neighbors. She may not even know her neighbors; it's not uncommon to not know neighbors, especially to not know them well enough to entrust your very young child to their care! It's often not that simple to get help. She seems to have been acting in a responsible manner...choosing not to drive because it was not safe for her to do so. The rigidity of some people's thinking is just absurd.

The school should have communicated better with this parent. Their actions are absolutely inexcusable. I lived in Lawrence for 18 years and moved to a nearby area a year ago. I have been wishing we would have stayed in Lawrence, but after reading this, I am so glad we moved so my kids will not have to deal with the Lawrence school district.

I second the previous poster's request for the LJWorld to do an investigative piece on why the schools are acting in this manner, particularly this principal. If it's true that this sort of ridiculousness is occurring so unfairly, things need to be brought to light so they can be made to change.

robinlc 5 years ago

I have had concerns for awhile about children getting to school safely and on-time due to the bus program being cut. It seems the lack of busing to school would be most difficult for families with children at multiple schools, families without cars, single parents, and those with medical issues who are unable to drive. I also believe the school could have put forth some effort to help Tracy find another family in her neighborhood to carpool with - lets help find solutions to difficult situations, rather than be punitive. Then, if the child was still late to school, we would know that there is more to the story on the part of the mother.

ATR920 5 years ago

Shocking! Parents are being held accountable and they dont like it! Yet they want the teachers and principals held acountable for everything. So if this little girl or boy starst falling behind because mom cant get out of bed in the morning then thats the teachers fault...

Accountablitiy has to start with the parents before it can be placed on the schools. Bottom line get your kid in school or homeschool them yourself!

And for all the people who are stating that "it's just kingergarten" you obviously have no clue about education. K and pre-K education has found to be one of the most important times in a child's education -thus the push for Pre-K and K education in low economic areas.

For some of you this also may be a wake up call, a lot issues like this are popping up and are going to be worse if you continue to elect leaders who cut education or if you just choose not to vote! Im sure if you could stick your kid on a bus you would have avoided this situation but there is no $ for busses. Also Im sure the school has had to cut pretty much all of its attendance staff so now it is in the hands of individual principals and secretaries.

jafs 5 years ago

Well, I contacted the school, and expressed my concerns.

They said that there was more to the story, but they can't reveal it because of confidentiality and legal issues.

If true, that's unfortunate, because it means we can't form an educated opinion about this.

They also said they're just following the rules, but it's clear that there's discretion involved here, on the part of individual schools and principals. I have a call into the district about one of the rules they mentioned - according to them, an hour lateness is considered a half-day absence (to an all day kindergarten class) by district regulation.

I am saddened to see such draconian rules in our district, and such strict policies by local schools - I generally support public education and teachers against critics, but I find this objectionable.

Also, the parent in this situation can make all of the details available if she wants to, and that would be helpful. If her child was an hour late 14 times, that would qualify as 7 unexcused absences by district rules, given the strict definition of unexcused by Deerfield.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Problem was that my daughter was a hour late 5 times but the school reported.it as whole days. According to Joni said SRS wanted it reported as whole days. SRS says schools are to report according to their handbook. This did not happen in my daughters case. That is why I've pushed it this far

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Also my daughter was sent home by the nurse and that was recorded as unexcused. I told the school that my daughter would not be in school the next day. They recorded that as unexcused. That makes the 7 unexcused days I got the letter about and what was called into SRS. After SRS visited me and I explained the absences. Miraculously that same day Deerfield mailed a completely different report to SRS that was just as much of a mess as what they mailed me. So yes there is was more to what's going on here. I challenged the school nurse because she thought she knew more about my daughters health than her Dr & I did.

jafs 5 years ago

If true, then they didn't follow their own rules, which would have mandated recording those as half day absences, bringing the total to 2 1/2 absent days.

So, even if we add a couple more from the illness episode, we'd still only get 4 1/2 days absent.

Good luck - if what you're saying is accurate, I hope you prevail and the school is forced to apologize.

momof2 5 years ago

Joni needs to go. She has been a thorn in so many people's side and a horrible Principal. Don't stop here call the news while your out it and contact everyone you can before this happens again.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

When I worked as a para, we had parents take their kids out of school to go on a cruise. Teachers had to try and find time to prepare work for the kids to do to stay caught up during vacation. The kids many times didn't do any of the work, then the parents complained, because their kid's grade dropped.

I was a single mother at one time, and fortunately never had health problems, but there are groups that can help, if you don't have family and friends in town. Why not ask the teacher to connect with some of the other mothers to car pool the kids? You have to explain the situation and have the guts to say "I need some help. Who do you know who can help me?" Get to know the parents of your child's classmates, then do favors for them, and ask them to do favors for you. If you ask the principal for solutions and he/she blows you off, go to the superintendent and ask for help. Do you have a retired neighbor who could help? Rugged individualism is a crock. Don't fall for it. Get to know people and develop a support system.

flutter 5 years ago

What you are suggesting.....building support networks.....takes a lot of time. I doubt any of this advice can help this person now. Also, retired neighbors aren't always willing or able to drive someone else's child to school. Again, the things you are suggesting are not feasible solutions for some people.

flutter 5 years ago

After the damage has been done? I call that redundant. And you're still ignoring the points raised here that what you suggest is not feasible for all. I, for one, do not know my neighbors well enough to ever entrust the care and transportation of my children to any of them.

bad_dog 5 years ago

As opposed to problem creation. By Deerfield administration and their interpretation/application of the law.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Thing is my daughters grades are amazing & her teacher praised me for raising such a remarkable little girl. This whole mess has affected my daughter & our family

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years ago

The bottom line here is doing everything possible to have students in the classroom learning. There may very well be more to the story as I would hope the entire district believes this to be important enough to take an extra step to help the STUDENT. If that involves helping the parent(s), so be it. I find it hard to believe the school did not make contact before it came to filing a truancy report.

Excerpt from a 2008 article:

"At elementary schools, administrators also tap into resources to work with families who have chronically absent students, said New York School Principal Nancy DeGarmo.

Schools are accountable each year for attendance rates, and they work to keep improving each year, she said.

It is logical for illness to account for a certain percentage, but principals work to curb other absences. Especially at schools with more lower-income families, it can require working with them on finding rides to school or even temporarily providing city bus passes if the family car breaks down, DeGarmo said.

"It's just a matter of finding out what the parent needs," she said."

jafs 5 years ago

The school didn't mention any attempts to help the parent, which wouldn't be subject to confidentiality issues.

I am disturbed by both the policies and the attitude of the school here. An hour lateness doesn't reasonably equate to a half day absence for me, and saying they're just following the rules when they have discretion, and define what constitutes "unexcused" absence is untrue.

Many people seem comfortable with the idea that schools are training people to fit into society and be good little workers - I find that uncomfortable and would prefer that they teach people how to learn/analyze/think critically.

ATR920 5 years ago

I didnt know you cant be both on time and think critically and analyze?

jafs 5 years ago

Since I never said that, your comment seems irrelevant.

But, to elaborate a little bit, if the goal is conformity and obedience, that is a different goal, and in fact goes in a different direction from teaching people to think for themselves.

ATR920 5 years ago

You can teach people how to be creative and think and at the same time teach them responsibility. Sorry you cant grasp that.

jafs 5 years ago

You can't simultaneously teach people to be obedient and conform and teach them to think for themselves.

Thinking for oneself is the opposite of conformity.

Our system is mostly designed to create obedient little workers - people on here even seem to think that's a good idea.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

The law really needs to be tightened up to give principals less discretion. My daughter (not in the Lawrence district but nearby) missed a lot of school over the winter due to a recurrent set of flu symptoms. Most of those absences involved doctor's visits but since her pediatrician is 20 miles away, sometimes I just kept her home. Our district policy states that an illness is excused if the parent says they're sick, and further that a doctor's note is "suggested" for absences of five days or more. But the principal decided that because she had missed more than the average number of days (duh - about half the kids will be above the average!), from then on she needed a doctor's excuse for any absence of even a single day.

It's all about the money - the state pays the district by how many days the kid is sitting in the chair. Fine, I get that, but you can't have principals not only ignoring the written district policies, but changing the rules for specific students mid-year.

KSManimal 5 years ago

"It's all about the money - the state pays the district by how many days the kid is sitting in the chair."

Not true. School districts are funded based on the number of students enrolled as of a specific date in the fall.

That being said, it does not surprise me in the slightest that there are issues of irrational and/or inconsistent administrator behavior, lack of communication with parents, marking absences "unexcused" even when parents call to excuse for medical reasons, and punishing young children for things that are beyond their control. It's not just one school either, folks.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

"It's all about the money - the state pays the district by how many days the kid is sitting in the chair." That's how Missouri funds schools; that's why they are more likely to call off school even for a little snow. In Kansas, there is a time in September when they count their enrollment and that's how funding is calculated.

Is it about conformity, probably. But how many places of employment let you take days off without doctor's excuses? How many let you come in an hour late? Yes, she is only in kindergarden, but that's when they start learning responsibility. And you have no idea what teachers go through when they have to deal with a student coming in late. They have to try and keep the rest of the kids on task, while they bring the child in and get them caught up on what is going on. And with the class sizes growing because of lack of funding, it's even more difficult. Will this mother blame the school if her child isn't reading at the same level as her peers? notajayhawk, are you going to take power away from the principal, then blame him, because your daughter flunks out of college?

momof2 5 years ago


Don't stop here at the paper. Take it every where the news the school board and the SI. Take it all the way to the state.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

So what do all of you suggest? Schools are not allowed to discipline children anymore. Kids come to school not dressed for the weather and girls dressed like hookers, they haven't had breakfast, they haven't been taught to say please and thank you, they speak disrespectfully to adults, and they don't want to do any work at school, but parents complain when they have homework. Then you blame the teachers and the school system when your kid is a failure and living in your basement at 30 years old. Do your job. Make sure your child is healthy, get them to school on time. Be responsible, and quit blaming the system. Or keep your kid home and home school them. Schools are for educating children for the real world. Arriving on time is part of the real world. Time to grow up.

bad_dog 5 years ago

This place just reeks of compassion and understanding...

ferrislives 5 years ago

tomatogrower: Although you may have some valid points, they're lost when you start talking about "girls dressed like hookers". Please remember, we are talking about a Kindergartener here, so we should keep this in perspective.

We are talking about a school district that gives each school and its Principal the right to each have their own rules about absences, whether they're excused or not. As the article says, Deerfield's handbook states "...all absences are unexcused except those for illness of the student, death in the immediate family, and exceptionally urgent reasons that affect the student."

Quail Run's states "sickness of a student, severe affliction in the family, exposure to infectious or contagious diseases, observances of religious holidays or extremely inclement weather are examples of legitimate excuses for nonattendance or tardiness. Examples of unexcused absences include trips or vacations."

And apparently Langston Hughes' "offers no specific examples of an excused absence, but advises parents that, "children who have had fevers should be fever-free for 24 hours before they return."

This problem is about leadership from the top down. The Superintendent needs to create one district-wide policy for all students, and not leave something like reporting a 5-6 year old to Child & Family Services up to each Principal unless it's a real case of neglect or abuse.

"True" truancy absolutely needs to be monitored and addressed, because it can be a sign of problems for the child at home. But as you can see from several other posters on here, a lot of parents have experienced a real lack of communication (to say the least) with this "Principal" and some of her staff, and where there's smoke there's usually fire. It should be investigated.

jafs 5 years ago

To throw this insanity into a clear frame, consider that kindergarten isn't even required.

So, a parent who doesn't send their kid to kindergarten is a fine parent, but one who does and is occasionally late is reported to KDCF??

If what kids are learning in kindergarten is so important and necessary, then we should require attendance. And, if not, we shouldn't make such a big deal about a few late arrivals.

Frankly, if we care about education, attendance is the wrong thing to focus on at any level. I'd rather have a child come to school half the time and get A's and B's than come all of the time and get C's.

James Minor 5 years ago

If District 497 allows each school in the district to determine their own absentee and truancy policy that is a failure mode. One policy should used for all schools in the district. The earlier grades K - 5 should be more lenient due to these kids are more dependent on parents taking them to and from school. One thing Lawrence doesn't want to happen is for parents to start making their kids walk to school when they can't take them at such an early age. It will be interesting to read the response from the school district. Maybe, there is a different story from their side.

Linda Endicott 5 years ago

I was appalled to find out that five absences could be deemed an offense that SRS could use to try and take someone's child away from them...

Really? Five tardies in seven months? Even if they had actually been full absences, that seems pretty extreme to me...out of how many school days a year? 180 or something? I get more days off than that a year at my job...and I don't necessarily have to have an excuse at all...I'm entitled to so many days, regardless of the reason...I also get four weeks of vacation time a year, not just personal days...

It seems to me that schools could grant a little more leeway here before they start threatening to have SRS yank your child away...is there a quota for foster care that I'm unaware of?

I can't think of an experience more terrifying and confusing for a small child...in fact, it could be enough to make her start going to school simply out of fear, which will guarantee that she probably won't learn as much while she's there...how many times, as a child, were any of you "responsibility" people ever threatened with losing contact with your mother? How would it have made you feel?

It just seems cruel and extreme to me...and I'm very thankful that my child is no longer of school age anymore...

jhawk1998 5 years ago

There was an excellent article in Family Circle about the importance of teaching children punctuality. Children that develop tendencies to be tardy have less success later in life. Not to mention the distraction to other children when a child constantly arrives late.

If tardies shouldn't be at issue why don't we just cancel school hours and tell kids to show up when they want?

jafs 5 years ago

A few late arrivals might be a minor issue, but they certainly don't warrant the actions taken by the school here.

jafs 5 years ago


According to the available information right now, her child was late 5x over the course of more months than that.

That's less than once a month.

You have other information?

usesomesense 5 years ago

So many seem to be missing the point - the mother did what she thought she was supposed to do. She called the school and the school never bothered to inform the parent that it was unexcused. Furthermore the school never informed her (which at the very least should result in a form letter) that if the child exceeded a specific number of absences it would be reported to SRS. As an employer, when I have staff that shows up late to work it is my responsibility to write them up for being late and have them sign off that they understand the potential consequences if it continues. If I fail to meet those responsibilities and fire the employee the state will unquestionably pay their unemployment claim even if they were chronically late or absent (which means higher unemployment rates that I have to pay).
I know what migraines can be like - and those of you that say you have them and it's no excuse, you've clearly self diagnosed, been mis-diagnosed or at the very least must have the absolutle mildest migraines there are. Every migraine med I have tried has either resulted in delaying the migraine for a couple of hours only to have it rebound worse or result in side effects for me that the bottle says to discontinue use immediately if you have them. Simple communication was all that was required. Instead the schools administration is either too lazy to attempt to communicate, specifically chose to allow the absences to quietly accumulate to create the situation or just plain screwed up by not communicating. The policy itself may not be that unsound, but the execution does absolutely no justice to the child or parent - nor the district. If the school had sent out letters to the parent informing them of the unexcused absences and potential consequences there wouldn't be a story here.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Linda Endicott 5 years ago

And you know all this insider information exactly how?

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Id like to know that as well. :) It's apparent that they weren't given the whole story or they wouldn't have made the comment they did.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Excused absences & Tardies don't get you turned in to SRS for truancy. Only unexcused absences that are 1 hour or more & that is deemed by the Principal. That is what this article is about. Problem is that in my daughters case the Principal & her staff did not follow proper procedure & when spoken to about it refusesd to correct it.

Linda Endicott 5 years ago

When my daughter was in school, I was told that if I called in, or sent a note, that this meant it was an excused absence...the only unexcused absences were if the child didn't show up for class and there was no explanation at all...

Why has this changed?

I still think threatening to have someone's child taken away is an appalling practice, and it shouldn't be allowed...

Isn't it kind of funny how school has gone from something that most kids didn't have a chance to go to, but dreamed of being able to, and now they're forced to go there?

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Let me make this abundantly clear. I would never have gone public with this if I didn't have a valid reason & proof to back it up. I have tried several times to get Joni to correct what was wrong. I have letters, documents & emails all proving the misconduct of Joni Appleman, the school nurse & the school secretary. They didn't take me serious & neither did Rick Doll the school districts Superintendent. I've requested a meeting with him twice now and both times he referred me back to the school districts liaison

Peter Houston 5 years ago

Looking forward to the arrival of the "60 Minutes" crew next week!

ferrislives 5 years ago

likeitis says:

"Yes, you are correct. There is a LOT MORE...but the parent in this case is reluctant to share the rest of the story." May 2, 2013 at 3:42 p.m.

"Yes, there is a LOT MORE to the story..." May 2, 2013 at 3:47 p.m.

"Much MUCH more..." May 2, 2013 at 3:49 p.m.

"Looking forward to the arrival of the "60 Minutes" crew next week!" May 2, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.

"Really? 5 times?" May 2, 2013 at 3:58 p.m.

"LOL! May 2, 2013 at 3:59 p.m.

"A few?" May 2, 2013 at 4:01 p.m.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. I smell some smoke!

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Not the only one that has issues with this Principal. Glad you never did

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Not once have I said anything negative about the school or teachers. My daughter loves her teacher and she is amazing with her. My daughter has good grades and her teacher has nothing but wonderful things to say about my daughter. I like Deerfield a lot, I went there as a child. I love that it is so diverse. If Joni would have followed the handbook as she expects us parents to then there would be no problem. The article is about unexcused absences and how parents can get blind sided because each school has different policies. Being tardy and excused absences are not what the topic of issue is and people are misunderstanding that. I received a letter about 7 days of unexcused absences. 5 were because my daughter was over a hour late the other two were because of the nurse & one later was changed to a excused absence. Still does not change the fact that the other 5 should have been recorded as 1/2 day not full and the 6th day should have been excused since I told the nurse my daughter would not be at school. My daughter doesn't have 7 unexcused absent days on her attendance record even as of today. So you don't know what is really going on just what they want you to know because you'd be just as confused and dumbfounded as everyone else is that has gotten to see all the information I have in regards to my daughter.

usesomesense 5 years ago

I'd suggest all parents with kids in USD497 call district headquarters at 785-832-5000 and ask them to pull up the attendance records for this year to make sure your children don't have any unexcused absences. One of my kids was very sick a few weeks ago and the times I had to call in I was only able to leave a voicemail. I never heard from anyone at the school and presume the absences are excused, but apparently there's no policy in the district to notify parents about unexcused absences.
As for calling SRS - especially for attendance - that should never be left to the individual schools. USD497 administration should always be involved with anything resembling that level of seriousness - it's a lawsuit waiting to happen.
It's like having the 16 year old shift supervisor at McDonald's just firing staff at will - they shouldn't have that kind of authority at that level. They could certainly recommend it, but shouldn't be able to execute it.

Tony Kisner 5 years ago

Public schools should be abolished. They are accountable to no one.

Peter Houston 5 years ago

Child neglect is serious business and while such neglect is(sadly) not that uncommon, seeing people actually flaunting of that behavior is something rather rare and very, very disturbing. Our school system is charged with educating our children. The critical first step in the education process is attendance. If parents don't care about their child's attendance, then that child is very unlikely to be successful in school.
It all starts at home.

usesomesense 5 years ago

Please enlighten us to your apparent in-depth and intimate knowledge of this particular situation. If this parent's allegations are untrue please provide your job title with the district or SRS (since one would presume you'd have to work for one or the other to have such information or possibly be a neighbor of the mom in the article) and what other proof of 'neglect' you have to offer. Otherwise I can only conclude you're more interested in stirring things up than anything else - much less that you have any real interest in helping children. Being late once a month to Kindergarten on average in my opinion is a problem, but the real problem is the lack of communication and inconsistency of policy in the district. If any of the policy information in the article or the allegations of the mother in the article and threads contradict district policy they need to stand up and say so publicly - not allege it anonymously in threads if you are in fact a district employee. I'd rather not have my kids run over by a parent that is temporarily visually impaired or otherwise just because one lone administrator deems their medical condition 'not that serious' or as fake and just making excuses for being late. Additionally without a clear policy we as parents are all at risk every time one of our kids is sick or has an appointment - even when the handbook states those as excused, it's open to 'interpretation' - ie:'corruption'. It leaves it open to the principal ultimately decide that someone's 'faking' or 'lazy' and deem it 'unexcused' quietly until they can create a real problem for someone they perhaps don't like personally. Checks and balances are a good idea. It helps to prevent corruption and in this case if it were handled with additional district administrative staff involvement, acknowledgement from the district administration of communication to the parent BEFORE sending it to SRS (giving the parent the opportunity to contest or comply) Joni wouldn't look like the bad gal here. The city gives notices, the bank gives notices - the school district should to. If they did they need to speak up about it. If they didn't those who should have should be ashamed of themselves for either being incompetent, malicious or cowardly for hiding behind the SRS because they didn't want the confrontation that could come from notification.

Peter Houston 5 years ago

Corruption? Really??? I think you're the one who needs to stand up and support your charges. Shame on you.

Brandon Devlin 5 years ago

Simple, folks...get up on time, call the school if there's a problem getting your kid to school. It's not rocket science. Wouldn't be "unexcused" or "tardy" if you pulled your head out of your "fifth point of contact" and did the right thing. Be responsible and raise responsible children.

usesomesense 5 years ago

If you read the article and responses in this thread from the parent in the article you would know that she says she did just as you suggest.

Brandon Devlin 5 years ago

Actually, I did read the article. . .that's how I got down to the bottom of the comments. She said she emailed. . .maybe not the greatest idea in trying to get in touch with a busy elementary school in the morning. Drop by Deerfield some morning and see what the office staff has to deal with. . I'm sure the last thing they're doing is checking email. . .but they're answering the phone.

Two kids at Deerfield and we've never had a problem CALLING the school with a tardy or absence.

usesomesense 5 years ago

Been to Deerfield plenty. Calling the schools frequently requires leaving a voicemail, which is really no different than an email. Furthermore if she did email, the school should have emailed back with "Your child's absence has been recorded as unexcused. To date she has 'x' number of unexcused absences and 'x' number of absences may result in notifying SRS to evaluate the situation." Now wasn't that easy?

Brandon Devlin 5 years ago

Hmmm. . .leaving a voicemail tells me that they're "busy." It's in the choices you make. You either take responsibility to make sure that the message gets through, or you leave it to chance that someone is going to get your voicemail or email.

If you're willing to take that chance, great. I'm not. I want to ensure that someone knows, beyond a doubt, that my child is late or absent.

usesomesense 5 years ago

Even when you speak to staff they don't tell you (nor make the decision) that the absence is excused or unexcused - that's left to the principal to determine. Once again - my problem isn't that the absences should have been excused - some may and some may not - perhaps even all of them should have been unexcused.. My problem is that they apparently chose not to communicate with the parent when the unexcused absences were approaching a serious level. If I though I smelled a gas leak coming from your house I'd knock on your door and tell you to get out before it blows up instead of assuming you know you've got a gas leak and it serves you right when it blows up. It's common human decency to try to help prevent people from getting into a train wreck. Those who live by the 'give them enough rope to hang themselves' mentality shouldn't be influencing our children in my opinion. If the parent was properly notified then this is a non-issue. So far district officials are silent - which only reinforces the illustration that they have some serious communication issues. This district is too small to not have uniform policies - it is a huge legal liability when each school makes it's own rules and we as taxpayers will be paying the tab when the district has to try to defend an action that should have been mediated first. If they notified the parent and the parent ignored their communication (certified mail is the preferred method when it's a serious matter) then this parent got what they deserved. Otherwise, failing to communicate with a parent about a serious issue (attendance IS a serious issue) is a major failure.

Brandon Devlin 5 years ago

I agree with you 100%. My real problem here is that we don't know for a fact what the facts really are. Did she really never hear anything about this? Not once did the reporter state that.

This story just smacks of one-sidedness.

usesomesense 5 years ago

It certainly is one sided - and the district should be speaking up. They don't need to discuss or dispute anything about this specific case to explain their policies and procedures publicly and I doubt the paper would be unwilling to do so. The superintendent needs to speak up - either to explain the policies clearly or to state that a standardized policy is being produced. I'm concerned that the silence indicates they know they have a policy problem, and announcing they're going to change it could be used against them in the event of a lawsuit. It's a catch 22 for the district - if they say they're going to change policy it can be construed as an admission of guilt and used against them, or it could resolve the situation and prevent legal action (which would really be the best for everyone in my opinion). I'm not much of a gambler, but when I mess up I try not to make excuses and just be honest and lay out a plan to fix it as best as I can. It seems to work pretty well for me, so I take that bet every time.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

I received the letter from the school about the unexcused absences on the 6th. I called the school & emailed them on the 7th. Joni didn't return my call. The 8th was s teacher in session day so no school for kids. The school called in the truancy to SRS. Mon I called the school again & still Joni didn't return ny call. I then contacted the Kansas Board of Education to find out policies. I then emailed Joni stating that I feel that I was being set up. She returned my call then. SRS was at my door Tuesday. The school had no intention of ever allowing me to correct or show proof of my daughters absences. They made their mind up. The letters states that I had 3 days to contact the school to clear the issue up. Joni told me that it's 3 days from the school sends the letter not when I received it.

Brandon Devlin 5 years ago

One other thing, and maybe I'm just being old-fashioned here... Migraines so bad you can't drive? Maybe emailing the school isn't the answer. How about a phone call? Talk to a (gasp!) live person and explain the situation? You've got a smartphone...be a little smart, here.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Because I learned that with email there's proof. Never was a problem before or even now. They get the communication just fine. Only issue is I didn't know that by communicating with the truth that would go against me. Joni said a parents illness is not a valid reason for an excused absence. So after the fact is when Im told this & not before. Talk to text email is easier to deal with than the magnified sound from a phone call & actual conversation.

ferrislives 5 years ago

likeitis: Apparently your parents never taught you manners. Anyone looking at your flurry of quick comments can see that you have a dog in this fight. Anyone arguing that a school district should not provide leadership and consistency has at least one screw loose. I don't get why any parent (especially a parent of 3) would argue against that, but I'm sure that you are an unbiased source.

Peter Houston 5 years ago

No, I am absolutely NOT unbiased. I have 21 years of first hand experience with this school. (3 kids x 7 years each). I think that gives me the credentials to have an educated opinion on this subject. As for manners...what goes around comes around. I have no respect for people who trash the hardworking educators in our school system.
You've earned no respect from me so don't expect any, hotshot.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

So your kids are 7 years apart then in order for you to have 21 years of experience with this school. No one is trashing educators in the school system. Just one Principal that has caused a stir with more than just one parent. She's in charge so the buck stops with her.

jafs 5 years ago

You know, people that come on here and claim there's much more to the story should enlighten the rest of us.

If/when they don't, I suspect they're just stirring the pot.

Personally, since the school is hiding behind confidentiality requirements, if I were this parent, I'd send them a letter waiving those and allowing them to provide all of the relevant records to the public.

Then we'll see what's really going on.

So far, I tend to believe the parent - when I called the school, they said they were just following the rules, but according to my research, the individual school defines an "unexcused" absence, and the district calls an hour lateness a half day absence, not a full absence.

ferrislives 5 years ago

Hotsot? Nice. If you've read any of my comments you would notice that the teachers were never mentioned. What you'd notice is that my children and I have not had good experiences at this school partially due to a lack of communication from the Principal and her staff. Sure, there are two sides to every story. However this school has not created a good reputation amongst several parents because of their communication issues. This district needs to do their job. Otherwise, why have leaders?

ferrislives 5 years ago

Oops. *Hotshot. On another note, you have continually mentioned that there's "much, much more" to this story. If we believe your statement that you're only a parent, then you've been given confidential information about another parent's child, which is of course unethical and possibly against the law. If you're more of an insider at the school than you care to admit (principal, staff, PTA, custodian, or whatever else), then you're not simply a parent and have chosen to fib a bit on this board. Either way, most people can deduce that there's something fishy about what you say.

Peter Houston 5 years ago

Duh...you don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize that the hard working Principals in this district have enough on their plates and better things to do than make frivolous SRS reports. I am familiar enough with the teachers, including the Principal Teacher, at this school to trust their judgement. I'm also not foolish enough to believe every claim some disgruntled parent would convince an eager reporter to print on the front page of the local newspaper. If you think you know the whole story because you read it in the paper, I'm guessing it must be because "Ferris" took too many "days off" from school while he was growing up. Guess that would explain your interest in jumping on the bandwagon with this pseudo-news story to begin with.
School Principals have a tough job. Dealing with unpleasent and difficult parents is probably the worst part of the job....thank goodness most parents are supportive and involved in their schools.

ferrislives 5 years ago

Duh? You are a great role model to your kids (that is sarcasm). There's nothing worst than nosy neighbors.

'Nuf said. Moving on now.

jafs 5 years ago

One can see the effect of training kids early on to be compliant and defer to authority figures.

When they become adults, they continue the practice, in the absence of any particular reason to do so.

CHEEZIT 5 years ago

It has to be a parenting issue??? If the child has so many absences it is reported because that is the law???? No attempt to investigate what the issue could be or if it could be resolved another way. It is totally messed up! It shouldn't be a black and white issue. Andy Taylor used to say "Sometimes you have to consider the human equation".

Bridgett Walthall 5 years ago

I think the point that is being missed here is that, HOLY CRAP: if you screw up and your kid is late to school more than 7 times over the course of 10 months, DCF is going to be knocking on your door. You will be going to court(?!) and people who don't know you are going to be prying into your private life and causing you AND your child stress and misery. Because your child was late to school less than once a month over the course of a school year. SERIOUSLY. Am I the only one who is floored by this? SO, the details of this statewide policy are left to the discretion of each individual school, as evidenced by the varied policies referenced in the article. YET, if you ask the school district, they blame the state and say that they have no choice in the matter. If the state is going to mandate this draconian policy, then it should be enforced EQUALLY district-wide. What's good for Deerfield should be good enough for Langston Hughes, amiright? I've heard unrelated negative stories about the Principal at Deerfield, and I tend to believe that where there's smoke, there's fire. Principals (i.e. middle management, pretty much?), in my opinion, should NOT have the unmitigated power to unleash a powerful and far-reaching governmental agency like DCF/SRS/whatever it is nowadays on families unless there is an actual, good reason to do so! How is it even possible that there isn't a requirement to give notice and offer a chance to remedy the situation prior to contacting authorities? I'm freaking appalled right now. I was appalled two years ago when I happened to catch a glimpse of the truancy policy in a friend's handbook. I am a product of USD497. Deerfield, as a matter of fact. I'm thankful that I had the presence of mind to choose to NOT live in the Deerfield neighborhood, beautiful as it is - I don't want my kid to have the same kind of experience I had all those years ago. Talk about bullies. Sounds like this Principal is a bully, too. Oh, and PS - aren't most of you people anti when it comes to the idea of the government knocking on your door and telling you what to do? Isn't that the kind of rhetoric I usually see being vomited forth by most of you? Yet - WOW - way to be incredibly harsh and judgmental toward a parent (I'm guessing single parent?) you've never met, who is obviously struggling. Mom - I'm with you. This is BS. Not looking forward to dealing with it when my kid starts KG in August. I'll probably oversleep one too many times and end up running into you at the courthouse at some point. Good luck and I hope things work out for you. Thank you for speaking out.

prairierose 5 years ago

As a parent who lives in the Deerfield area I have been following this thread closely. We currently have our children in private school but were looking at possibly sending them to the neighborhood school. Now, I don't think it will be worth it for us. This is yet another bad report about this principal. We have heard many. This makes me sad because when we first moved to the area in 2005 we only heard wonderful and glowing reports from Deerfield parents. We still opted for private school for various reasons. We would rather save the K-12 money for college but private school has served us well.

Reading through many comments the words that kept coming to mind were "Arbitrary and Capricious". The way this principal uses her discretion (and the nurse/office staff?) in deciding who will be punished by these truancy guidelines is Arbitrary and Capricious. Apparently, a single parent with a medical condition has become a criminal matter. This may very well be a case for the local ACLU. Give them a call and run the facts by them.

We are criminalizing being a single mother? Is this the community we want for our children? Where is the compassion and empathy? If it takes a village-well-this leader (principal) just threw you in front of a bus! At best this is just plain sloppy/ laziness on the part of the principal and staff. At worst, this is a vindictive and abusive use of administrative power. Reporting a 6yo for truancy is a BFD! Why not save the resources for the kids who really need it? Why traumatize a young child needlessly?

This is bullying behavior.

Having read through many of the district school handbooks I was very dismayed to learn that you are at the mercy of each prinicipal and how they have chosen to interpret district policies, and by far Deerfield seems the most punitive.

Reminds me of my time back at THS when each division principal would apply the rules as they saw fit and it was hardly fair to students who weren't in the "cool" division (it was Div III for all you THS alums). You remember right? There was way more empathy for students in Div. III and if you were in Div II... well... no amount of hard luck swayed that guy. Does the treatment sound familiar Tracy? It is obvious Quail Run and Langston Hughes parents enjoy a much more benevolent application of these rules. The demographics between all three schools are not strikingly different so why such punitive implementation? Does Deerfield have that many "derelict" parents compared to QR and LH?

I am not buying it.

If I were you I would lawyer up NOW. As soon as you got that letter it should have prompted a call to an attorney. It costs some pretty pennies but this is a really punitive act and it must be fought. Organize your fellow parents and check with the Kansas ACLU first. https://aclukswmo.org/

The district won't change it's behavior if everyone just rolls over. It will just reinforce business as usual.

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Thank you for the advise, already have things in motion before article just needed the publicity to get word to other parents. Im not backing down on this. The Principal and Superintendent were already warned via email that if they didn't correct the injustice to my daughter then I will move forward and expose every misconduct

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

Advice* There need to be policy changes for sure. I have already contacted the ACLU & The NAACP. I was concerned that because my child is mixed race that there were racially motivate intentions and social economic stereo types. I expressed those concerns to Joni & Rick, but they still didn't take my concerns about the situations and what was in the best interest of a 6yr old little girl serious and how strong & tireless my Mama Bear fight would be. My daughter has been affected by this as well as our whole family and the damage can not be undone but it can be prevented from happening to others. Rick Doll has already been contacted by the NAACP on my child's behalf

KansasMinxDiva 5 years ago

I am a single mom of 2. 6yr old daughter and a 4yr old son. He is in private pre-K. Im also self employed. LJW did a article & photo shoot at my salon. It was featured last Mon in the GO insert. I work about 45-50 hours a were to support my family. Im not on any gov't programs nor do I qualify for any. It was the grossly misguided assumptions of Deerfield office staff that "people like me" as stated in a letter from the school nurse wouldn't take things serious when it came to the wellness & best interest of my daughter. I challenged the nurse and her opinion and a few days later I get the truancy letter. When I spoke to Joni about what I believed to be a set up and that.her nurse and I need to have a meeting with her, Joni said that she didn't think it was necessary. So yes there is more to this story but I wanted to lead with the truancy because I believe there should be some changes & parents need to be made aware of their children attendance records and make sure that when they call or email to excuse their child that it is excused and not get caught off guard like I did. Everything thing the nurse attempted has come back on her against her favor & I was vindicated but not after damage was done. The Nursing board will be contacted after my daughter's last day of school. I've requested that I get a phone call when my daughter goes into the nurses office. The school district liaison didn't think that was an unreasonable request but Joni did.and refuses to

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